I, Too, Sing America

Listen to the poem “I, Too, Sing America” by Julia Alvarez: My students and I just read this poem last week alongside Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” and Langston Hughes’s “I, Too.” In his poem, Whitman celebrates the dignity of the working class person as an embodiment of American values. Hughes then enters theContinue reading “I, Too, Sing America”

Sacrificing Our Sacred Cows: Rethinking the Literary Canon in Secondary English

      In my class, I refer to literature in two categories: Real Lit and Junk Lit. Real Lit means texts that you need to unpack, that have layers, that speak to the human condition. Junk Lit is mostly comprised of those free titles on the Amazon e-books list—you read them fast, but neverContinue reading “Sacrificing Our Sacred Cows: Rethinking the Literary Canon in Secondary English”

Stay Curious

“How do you fight cynicism? Stay curious.” This is my third year teaching at a school in the Kansas City area. Each of the past two years we have begun back-to-school teacher training with a sermon from a local pastor, a message reminding us of our duty to mold the children and young men andContinue reading “Stay Curious”

Why Poetry Is Still Important (Period).

Recently I wrapped up a unit on poetry both for my ninth graders and tenth graders. I’m going to rag on them a bit (they know how much I love them–I often joke that sarcasm is my love language, so if I don’t sass you, we’re probably not too close). The reason is that IContinue reading “Why Poetry Is Still Important (Period).”

“Back to School” Is Not Just for Kids

  “The time has come to revive an idea that once seemed natural: the student’s life as a Christian calling.” Dr. Leland Ryken, author and professor, writes this in a chapter that he contributed to Liberal Arts for the Christian Life. For Ryken and many Christian educators (like myself), education is not a season of life meantContinue reading ““Back to School” Is Not Just for Kids”

My First Published Poem

Really, this is late news, but last fall a poem of mine was selected to fill the pages of Glass Mountain, “a literary journal edited by undergraduate students at the University of Houston” and “dedicated to showcasing the works from undergraduate and emerging artists.” This, of course, is a humble achievement (I wasn’t exactly publishedContinue reading “My First Published Poem”

Macbeth, the anti-David

  Just the other day, my class was performing skits of various scenes in the life of David before becoming king of Israel (and the king of Israel’s brief Golden Age). As I was sharing a few personal thoughts to the end of one performance, I suddenly realized just how closely it paralleled the storyContinue reading “Macbeth, the anti-David”

An Open Letter to My Graduating Seniors

It’s here. You’ve finally made it to the end. I’m proud of you. And I’m not saying I’m proud of you because every single moment of every class period you acted like perfect little angels (we all know that’s not the truth). I’m saying it because…well…it’s easy to say now that you’re gone. Ha! JustContinue reading “An Open Letter to My Graduating Seniors”

College Kids (and applications)

someone please save us, us college kids! what my parents told me is what i did they said go to school and be a college kid but in the end i questioned why i did -Relient K, “College Kids” It’s the time of year when seniors are sending off some last minute applications and juniorsContinue reading “College Kids (and applications)”

At the Intersection of Books & Dreams

“I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. It’s most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from…” This weekend I watched a TED talk by Lisa Bu entitled “How Books Can Open Your Mind.” It’s a fascinating account of a youngContinue reading “At the Intersection of Books & Dreams”